Australian students may have broken a 26-year-old world speed record to become the fastest electric vehicle over a distance of 500 kilometres on a single battery charge.

An electric vehicle managed an average speed over 100 km/h for an attempt in Geelong over the weekend, which the team says beats the previous world record of 73km/h.

But the students will have to keep waiting a bit longer, as no definitive numbers can be issued until the record is officially approved by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), world motorsport's governing body.

A professional driver brought in for the world record attempt, Garth Walden, said: “As a racing driver you always want to be on the podium and it's not everyday you get to break a world record.

“I really enjoyed hanging out with the team and being part of history,” he said.

“This record was about establishing a whole new level of single-charge travel for high-speed electric vehicles, which we hope will revolutionise the electric car industry,” said jubilant project director and third-year engineering student Hayden Smith.

The students are from the University of NSW’s Sunswift; Australia’s top solar car racing team. Their vehicle, eVe, is the fifth to be built and raced since the team was founded in 1996.

Earlier Sunswift cars have set world records for the fastest solar powered road trip from Perth to Sydney, and a Guinness World Record for the fastest solar car.

The team hopes the latest performance proves electric vehicles are ready for practical, day-to-day use.

“Five hundred kilometres is pretty much as far as a normal person would want to drive in a single day,” Smith said.

“It's another demonstration that one day you could be driving our car.”

The latest car uses solar panels on the roof and hood to charge a 60kg battery, but the panels were switched off during the world-record attempt, leaving the car to run solely on the battery charge.

The Sunswift designers say the road ahead will bring a number of challenges, but they fully intend for a vehicle to meet Australian road registration requirements within as little as one year. 

The team posted an album of photographs from the world record day.